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  1. #1
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    So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    (cross-posted to Baby Bargains car seat forum)

    Okay, deep breath. Here's what happened:

    DH, DD and I were flying from NYC to Milwaukee yesterday on Midwest Airlines. DD is 18 months old but still fits in her Safeseat 1--she is 22lbs and 31in (and is leggy, so still has 2-3 inches of seat above the top of her head). We flew with her in this seat on JetBlue a month ago and had no problems.

    As I was getting DD settled and her carseat buckled in, a flight attendant came up and said, "Oh no no no, you have to turn her around, she can't sit like that." I explained that this carseat is a rear-facing only seat and that this is how we use it in the car (which I know is the argument other people have used with success in the past). She told me that DD was not allowed to have her feet touching the back of the airplane seat--and when I explained again that this carseat is safe even when the child's legs are longer than the seat (which DD's have been since she was like 5 months old, come ON!), she just said, "That's in a car, planes are different." She didn't believe me that the carseat was FAA approved--I had to unbuckle it and take DD out and show her the label.

    When DH asked her what our options were, she actually suggested that my 22-lb 18-month-old sit IN THE SEAT BY HERSELF WITH ONLY A SEATBELT. !!!!!!

    I asked her to please show me the printed regulation that says infants are not allowed to have their feet touching the seat (another argument that I know has worked for others here in the past). She went back to get the "book" and I saw her paging through it, trying to find the rule. She couldn't, of course. Then she went and got another flight attendant, who explained to me that if we were in a crash, my child would get "crushed" because "the seat back would come forward on her." She told me that I would need to hold DD in my lap for takeoff and landing, but I could put her in the carseat during the flight "and we'll put pillows around it to make it more secure" . I finally gave in because the only apparent alternative was to get kicked off the flight, but I asked again if I could see the written regulation when they had a chance. FA#2 said yes, but then FA#1 said to her, "Actually, I don't think it's written down." !!!!!

    So I held her in my lap, but was fuming--I mean, come on, how was that in ANY way safer than her being in a carseat? Assuming what the flight attendants said was true, and the seat backs do fly forward in a crash, I'd rather have her legs get "crushed" than me getting flung forward on top of her, or her flying out of my arms and getting a head injury. (Not that I have to convince any of you!)

    So. I went on the Midwest website and printed out their carseat rules (which, of course, mention nothing about feet touching seats). I'm going to call customer service and write a very strongly worded letter to the airline (I got the FAs names, of course). But here's my question: Is there anything I could have done differently in the moment to convince them? Or are we just all basically at the mercy of whatever crazy old wives' tales fly around flight attendant school?

    I am so furious about this. I can't believe that I was forced to compromise my child's safety because flight attendants don't know what they're talking about.

    ***
    Another question (not posted on Baby Bargains): Does anyone have specific information about this supposed "crushing" by seat back--sites where I can find info to print out in case I have this argument on the return flight? I have to believe that in a true crash scenario my daughter would be more likely to be crushed by me if sitting in my lap than by a seat back--at least she'd have the shell of the car seat around her.
    Last edited by skipspin; 09-08-2008 at 11:42 AM. Reason: removed pre-edited language

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  3. #2
    Carseat Crazy mommyto2angelgirls's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    i've never heard of a filght attendent saying your kid would be crushed by the seat back. i mean then wouldn't it fold up on you also. so we aould all get smushed. i'd write them and argue you were unallowed to use a faa approved seat on their flight and that your childs life was put in danger. i'd also ask to see that rule the childs leg cannot touch the seat backs. if all else fails try one of those local news chanels that do investigative reports. i'd beat they'd give you a voucher for another flight if not at least you are bringing attention to the stupidity of airlines.
    DD1~5yrs~43.5lbs~42 inches~14.5inch torso~FF in a MA, Nautilus and Apex 65
    DD2~23 months~26lbs~33inches~RF in a MA and EFTA
    Little girl I babysit~3yrs~30lbs~35inches~FF in an Evenflo Triumph
    Baby #3 due in Dec~infant seat TBD~any advice??

  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy mimieliza's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Did you buy her a ticket? If so, they should refund the ENTIRE cost of her ticket! That is outrageous that they made you hold her during the most risky parts of the flight.
    michelle mama to
    dd 10.30.06 graco connext & recaro performance booster
    ds 5.4.10 sunshine kids radian xtsl & graco nautilus safety surround
    riding safely in a 2014 mazda 5 and a 2002 subaru forester


  5. #4
    CPS Fanatic Mommy2Marcus's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Quote Originally Posted by mimieliza View Post
    Did you buy her a ticket? If so, they should refund the ENTIRE cost of her ticket! That is outrageous that they made you hold her during the most risky parts of the flight.
    I completely agree that if you purchased a ticket for her then they should refund you her ticket in FULL! I would also make sure to ask for a refund on her seat since you were unable to use it! Sorry this happened to you & I hope you get different FA's on the return flight that do not stop you from using your seat!
    Krista Mommy 2 Marcus, 6 years old, 48 inches tall, 40-42lbs, 16 inch torso & riding in a Graco Safety Surround!!

  6. #5
    Senior Community Member jessclear's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    This makes me so angry. I've been having trouble with FAs lately too. I am writing letter to the airline today actually.

    I would definitely ask for a full refund. They put your child at risk and went against the FAA guidelines. Good for you for getting their names. That will help with your complaint. I'm not sure you could have done anything differently. You would have risked being kicked off the flight. The only other thing that might have helped was asking to speak to the pilot. Again, that still could have gotten you kicked off the plane. Good luck with this. Please let us know how it turns out.

    ETA: The only flights I have been on with no problem were Skybus flights. They just checked the seat for the sticker and let us go. Maybe because it was a newer airline they had new training and remembered the rules? Too bad that airline is no longer, we enjoyed flying with them.
    Hannah Rose - 6yo - 47 pounds - 45' - Livia FR 85
    Turbo Booster, Jane Indy Plus with dad; Evenflo Symphany and Turbo with Gma;
    Peg Perego Primo Viaggio for 3.5yo Niece and borrowed children

    Eva Genelle forever in our hearts


  7. #6
    Admin - CPST Instructor Kecia's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Aircraft seats can or do break forward in a crash. I'm not sure if they're designed to do this or if it's just what happens under extreme crash forces. I'm also not sure if this is a characteristic of all aircraft seats or just some designs. For adults who have assumed the crash position, my guess is that it would be a non-issue. For kids in CRs, I guess it could be an issue but it's not something that we really factor into the equation so I'm skeptical as to how big of a concern (if any) this really is.

    I've never seen any data or studies that suggest this is something we really need to be concerned with. Actually, the information that I *have* seen suggests the real danger with kids in CRs is not being injured by seatbacks that break forward when they are seated rf - but slamming heads into the hard surface of the seat in front of them when they are seated facing forward. Since there is no way to tether a ff CR on an aircraft and there is very little distance (aka pitch) between the seats - there often isn't enough room for head excursion in a crash. And unlike school buses (that also have only lap belts, no place to tether and not much distance between seats) the back of the airline seat isn't a "friendly" padded surface.

    I'm so sorry that you had to deal with this very unfortunate experience but now you have to make the most of a bad situation. You need to file a complaint with the airline, with the FAA and with the NTSB. Call the press and call your local congressional representatives. I know all of this can be very time-consuming but you have a unique opportunity to make a big difference.

    I could yell from the top of the tallest mountain but no one would listen or care because it didn't happen to my child. Nothing will ever change unless people complain effectively when this happens to them. However, you need to do more than complain - you need to insist on proper education and retraining of all flight attendants employed by this airline.

    Good luck! I'm thankful that nothing horrible happened during your flight. I hope you can make a real difference and spare some other poor soul from having to go through the same experience.

    There is some interesting info here: http://flyingwithchildren.blogspot.com/
    This FA states that aircraft seats break forward to help with evacuation which makes sense.

    Kecia

  8. #7
    Senior Community Member natysr's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    At that point, I simply would have told the FA that I had done my research and was confident that my seat met all of the requirements to be used on an aircraft in the manner I was using it. I would have told her that if she would not allow her to ride in her carseat, then she would have to tell me and my family that we are not allowed to fly. If I got kicked off, I would immediately call the local media and tell them that i was removed from a flight because the FA would not allow my child to ride properly restrained in her carseat.

  9. #8
    CPS Fanatic Rosey's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Depending on how pressing it was for me to get to my destination, I think I would have risked getting kicked off and made a bigger stink about it.

  10. #9
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Oh my. I can't believe that. I used my SR on a plane with my 13 month old whose feet touched the seat without an issue on 4 different planes. They just checked that it was FAA approved and that was it. I would argue why would they let the car seats be FAA approved to that weight if they were dangerous for a child to use. They wouldn't be approved if they were unsafe to use RF.
    Andraya-6 Nathaniel-4 Annalee Grace 18mon

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  11. #10
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kecia View Post
    You need to file a complaint with the airline, with the FAA and with the NTSB. Call the press and call your local congressional representatives.
    Who was it, another CPST here, that filed a report & contacted the media? Sue? Oh gosh, I'm sorry to have forgotten She might be able to help give you some tips -- you could a search: I think this was a year ago....

    GOOD LUCK
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

  12. #11
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Quote Originally Posted by papooses View Post
    Who was it, another CPST here, that filed a report & contacted the media? Sue? Oh gosh, I'm sorry to have forgotten She might be able to help give you some tips -- you could a search: I think this was a year ago....

    GOOD LUCK
    Mom2acrew?

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    Dd1 : 5/03 : 60 lbs : Monterey and Turbo
    Dd2 : 11/05 : 51 lbs : Regent and True Fit

  13. #12
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    It was someone who went to LifeSavers 07(?) I believe.

    Susan
    Mommy to my angel, Ethan Daniel (8/5/07-8/6/07)
    Mommy to Nicholas (12-29-08) RF'ed to 2.75 yrs in Graco MyRide(crashed) and a True Fit Primier. FF in the TFP and a Graco Nautilus Elite. Nicholas is 2.75 yrs old, 32 lbs and 36" tall.
    Child Passenger Safety Tech

  14. #13
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    I think I've had that very same FA. We were told the EXACT same things except that my DS was more like 2 and RFing in a roundabout.
    I asked her why the FAA would allow RFing carseats if they endangered children and VERY firmly but somewhat politely (as much as I could) said "I will be happy to turn him FFing when you show me exactly where FAA regulations say he needs to be FFing." I knew she couldn't come up with it and that I knew more than she did but I kicked myself for not having the FAA regs with me...now I ALWAYS fly with them! She came back and said that she couldn't find the exact regulation but that I would be endangering my son if I didn't switch him and that 'she only had his safety in mind'. I thanked her for her concern, but said that "I would take that risk and would leave him the way FAA regulations allow until they revise their rulings". She must have thought I was an absolute idiot and I know she talked about me to the other flight attendents, because after a layover a new FA came specifically to me and said that she was sorry that there had been an issue, that the other FA was 100% WRONG and that she had told her so! Boy did I feel vindicated, but mentioned that some better continuing education was certainly needed!
    I have almost been thrown off flights for carseat issues, have been told by a male FA that it was "HIS plane and that HE made the rules" and haven't been allowed to use a seat that didn't have a FAA sticker on it (my wrong, but still safer than nothing). I have learned to ALWAYS travel with the FAA regs highlighted to the pertinent information.
    Sorry, she's still trying to control an issue that she is blatently wrong about!

  15. #14
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    That's so weird. When we flew last time, Evan used his seat rfing and he was just shy of 3! You can believe his feet touched the seat...
    Jennifer, Special Needs CPST, peds nurse, and CSFTL Admin mom to:
    AJ-13 (five steps), Evan-11 (nbb),
    Ilana-9 (nbb) ,
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  16. #15
    CPS Technician Victorious4's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    Quote Originally Posted by thepeach80 View Post
    That's so weird. When we flew last time, Evan used his seat rfing and he was just shy of 3! You can believe his feet touched the seat...
    Leila was 3 when she rode RF in her Wizard from NY to FL -- she barely fit with her legs crossed I just had all the relevant printouts available by FAA & kept waving them around whenever a flight attendant tried to say something
    TIFF ~ doula & all hours childcare provider
    SCARLA: winter '02 . . . Jr. Roller Derby level III
    BEAR: spring '11 ... Recaro Sport + Clek Oobr
    RAHNE: summer '17 ... MicoMax30 + RadianRXT
    childcare: 0-7yrs... Contender + Frontier Clicktight
    {emergencies: Scenera Next, Highback, Topside}

  17. #16
    CPS Technician emandbri's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    I'm so sorry you had to deal with this crazy, crazy, flight attendant! I had flight attendant tell me I couldn't use my roundabout rear-facing it was VERY STRESSFUL! I tried to stay calm and explain that I knew what I was doing but she wouldn't listen. Oh and where were we flying? I was flying to washington DC to speak to NHTSA about CARSEATS!

    Keep us updated and lots of hugs!

    Emily tech and mom to Jacob 16, Daniel 13, Benjamin 9, Elizabeth 6. Child care provider to 4 other kiddos.

  18. #17
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    That is ridiculous. I've always been ready to battle with a FA, but I've never even had one check my car seat for the FAA sticker. Of course, in getting on a plane with two small children, I'm usually frazzled and just wave them off and do my thing with the car seat installations.

    Nathan - FF-ing in a Frontier
    Logan - RF-ing in a Boulevard
    Megan - RF-ing in a Boulevard

  19. #18
    Carseat Crazy The Bjorns's Avatar
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    First, I'm so sorry you had such a nightmare flight. Thank heavens nothing happened during the "lap baby" phase.

    Second, you asked what you could do in future situations so you're not at the mercy of old wives tales. Print up a copy of the FAA regulations and keep them in your carry on luggage (tucked into the diaper bag is great) and highlight the sections relative to car seats. You might also want to have a copy of the airlines policy regarding flying with car seats and children. I don't have the links to the FAA regs (do a quick search here or on google and you'll find them) and the airlines usually have their policies posted on their websites.

    If you paid for a seat for your DD then I would definitely ask for a full refund. If you had wanted her to be a lap baby then you could've saved yourself a lot of money in the first place (let alone the hassle of lugging a seat through the security and down a narrow plane aisle). The point of purchasing a ticket was to ensure use of her seat during the two most dangerous times, take off and landing, and you were summarily denied that usage.

    Please contact everyone Kecia suggested, besides just the airline.

    I'm not as familiar with the Safeseat since my girls never used it nor was it an option at the time, but does the handle stay up when it's installed? If so, perhaps you could use that to help the argument againt the seat back crushing argument. If the handle's up, then it will block the seat from turning her into a pancake. Sounds safer than a child getting squished by me in my lap and then hitting her head on the seat in front. Doubt that would've helped any with those particular FAs, but you never know.
    Diane ~ Mommy to
    D 3/16/04 backless booster
    G 8/16/07 (45.5", 63 lbs) Britax Frontier, Radian, Monterey booster

  20. #19
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    I completely agree--that is totally unacceptable! At a minimum, you are due a refund.
    Me & DH FF'ing in seatbelts
    DS 6/04 in a PWSG HBB
    DS 09/10 ERF in RA50

  21. #20
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    Re: So MAD! Flight attendant wouldn't let me use carseat!

    I actually had my 2.5 yo RF on a flight last month and decided to turn her FF mid-flight (long story) and when I asked for a belt extender the FA was actually concerned asking if I was sure she was big enough (28 pounds . Sorry you got a hassle.

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